Monday, June 20, 2011

Mount Apo - King of Philippine Peaks

 The Magnificent Mount Apo
(10,311 feet above sea level)

The magnificent Mount Apo is the "King of Philippine Peaks", the  country's highest mountain peak with an elevation of 10,311 feet or 3,144 meters above sea level. It is also one of Southeast Asia’s highest mountains, and much sought after climbing destinations.

Mount Apo, majestically towering over the vast expanse of the southern tip of Mindanao island, and bordering over the mountainous edges of Davao City, provides a breathtaking view of various volcanic formations, craggy rockscapes, and the rich virgin forest lands of Davao City, Davao del Sur and North Cotabato. It is a flat-topped mountain with three peaks, and is capped by a 500-meter wide (1,600 feet) volcanic crater containing a small crater lake. Its base covers about 72,796 hectares of mountain ranges that extend from Davao City, Davao del Sur, Northern Cotabato, Bukidnon, and Agusan del Sur, to Misamis Oriental. Its peak overlooks Davao City 40 kilometers (25 miles) to the northeast, Digos City 25 kilometers (16 miles) to the southeast, and Kidapawan City 20 kilometers (12 miles) to the west.

King of Philippine Peaks
(One of Southeast Asia’s highest mountains, and much sought after climbing destinations)

Capped by a 500-meter wide (1,600 feet) volcanic crater containing a small crater lake

Its base covers about 72,796 hectares of mountain ranges

Apo means “ancestor" or "grandfather" or "elder". Mount Apo is a large solfataric, potentially-active stratovolcano. The date of its most recent eruption is unknown, and none are verified in historical times.

The peak covered by thick clouds

Mount Apo’s several attractions include waterfalls, rapids lakes, geysers, sulphur areas, primeval trees, endangered plants, and animal species, and a steaming blue lake. "Baboy damo", or wild boar, and mountain deer are occasionally seen in the area. Moreover, there are also rubber plantations from which rubber is extracted for export, rubber being one of the country's top export earners.

On a clear day

One of the sulfur vents in Mount Apo

Water Falls at Marbel River

150 meter Tudaya Falls

Rubber plantations from which rubber is extracted for export
 (Rubber is one of the country's top export earners)

Baboy Damo or Wild Boar

Mountain Deer

On the average, it takes two days to reach the summit. The first recorded climb was on October 10, 1880, by a party led by Joaquin Rajal, then Spanish governor of Davao.

At the summit

Conservation - Mount Apo Natural Park

On May 9, 1936, Mount Apo was declared a National Park under Proclamation No. 59 by President Manuel L. Quezon, followed by Proclamation No. 35 of May 8, 1966, then Proclamation No. 882 of September 24, 1996.

Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon (1936-1944)
(Declared Mount Apo a National Park under Proclamation No. 59
on May 9, 1936)

On February 3, 2004, the approval of Republic Act No. 9237 established Mount Apo as a protected area under the category of natural park with an area of 54,974.87 hectares (135,845.9 acres); with two peripheral areas of 2,571.73 hectares (6,354.9 acres) and 6,506.40 hectares (16,077.7 acres) as buffer zones, provided for its management and for other purposes. 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) submitted Mount Apo on December 12, 2009 for inclusion in the UNESCO world heritage list. The mountain is considered by DENR as the center of endemism in Mindanao. It has one of the highest land-based biological diversity in terms of flora and fauna per unit area. It has three distinct forest formations: from lowland tropical rainforest, to mid-mountain forests, and finally to high mountain forests. A portion of the eastern slopes are also within the scope of the UNESCO Hydrology Environment Life and Policy (HELP) Network. The Davao HELP Network is focused on building collaboration among watershed stakeholders.

Philippine Eagle
(King of the Philippine Skies)

Flora and Fauna

The mountain is home to over 272 bird species, 111 of which are endemic to the area. It is also home to the world's largest eagle, the Philippine Eagle, the country’s National Bird. Fruits like Durian, the king of fruits, grow abundantly in Mount Apo.

(The Queen of Orchids - Vanda Sanderiana)

Mindanao Geothermal Production Field 

Geothermal Energy

Mount Apo is an excellent source of geothermal energy. Located in Barangay Ilomavis, Kidapawan City, North Cotabato is the Mindanao Geothermal Production Field with a power output of 106 Mega Watts, and is currently the only power plant of its kind in Mindanao. The Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) geothermal plant supplies electricity to Kidapawan and its neighboring provinces.


Indigenous Peoples

Six indigenous peoples - the Manobos, Bagobo, Ubos, Atas, KaIagans, and the Tagakaolo consider Mount Apo as their ancestral domain and their home. These tribes have lived, since immemorial history, around the mountain which they consider as sacred ground, their place of worship, and the burial ground of Apo Sandawa, their great forefather. A number of genealogies of known Lumad leaders in South Central Mindanao trace their roots to Mount Apo. For the Lumads, the term "Apo" was coined from the name of their great grandparent Apo Sandawa. Mount Apo is the source of their continual supply of food and medicine, their spiritual and cultural way of life.






Climbing and Hiking Activities

Climbing peak seasons are during the months of March, April and October, organized by various tourism, mountaineering, and environmental organizations. The City Tourism Operations Office, in coordination with the Calinan District Tourism Council, oversees all climbing and hiking activities.

Lake Agco

Lake Agco Resort

Lake Venado

Several trails lead to the summit, coming from North Cotabato and Davao provinces. Arguably the easiest route to Mount Apo National Park is through Kidapawan City. Climbers can register in the city’s Summer Climb, or the Annual October Trek/Climb. An average hike requires 2–4 days. Various sights include Lake Agco Resort, with hot and warm pools sourced from local hot springs located at the foot of the mountain, and Lake Venado, the highest lake in the Philippines, the solfataras, and the old crater of Mount Apo near its summit. The difficulty of the climb to the summit is 7 out of 9 as classified by one of the local popular mountaineering website, The mountain may be climbed year-round.

A copy of the Mount Apo Trail Map is readily available for free at the Davao Department of Tourism office. The Trail map contains information about the mountain and its attraction.

Tamayong Trail

Tamayong Trail

The Tamayong Trail, located in Calinan District, is considered a more adventurous course to the peak. The climb through this trail usually takes four days, depending on the climber’s capability. This trail entails passing through creeks and rivers, and traverse several waterfalls. Though notoriously known as the longest and most arduous of all trails, the abundance of rare flora and fauna, the excellent conditions of century-old trees, and the physically challenging climb is reputed to be incomparable.

For other nature and eco-tourism adventures, the rugged terrains of Marilog District promises a great adventure for outdoor expeditions. Marilog, a district popularly known for its rugged beauty, amazing caves, waterfalls, rivers and mountain trails, is a sought after destination for agricultural and eco-tourism. With an altitude of over 3,000 feet above sea level, a formidable array of lush forests and vegetation grow under the damp mist of the clouds are a common sight in the area.

Kuong Campsite

How to get to Mount Apo

There are two ways of getting to Mount Apo: One is through Kapatagan in Davao del Sur. A registration fee of 500 pesos for every climber is required at the site. The other jump-off point is through Lake Ago in Kidapawan City.

From the Ecoland Bus Terminal in Ecoland, Davao City, buses via Kidapawan City are readily available. At Kidapawan City, climbers need to register at the office of the Department of Tourism (DOT) for a seminar and briefing on the new trail developed by DOT. Then a 45-minute multi-cab ride will take you to Agco Lake in Mount Apo where the jump-off site is located. Porters may be engaged for a fee for the climb. From Agco Lake  to Kuong campsite is a 4-hour trek, and another 7 to 9 hours hike to Lake Venado, via the Marbel River, traversing through coconut logs and several bamboos for support because of the strong flow of the river. Then, the hardest part of the mountain; you need to negotiate 100 meters of almost vertical incline of about 87-90 degrees to reach Lake Venado. At Lake Vanado, climbers usually pitch their tents to rest in preparation for tomorrow's climb. Here, you will find a place called “Paradise” where breakfast is served, along with a number of sari-sari stores in the area. Then, from Lake Venado, another 5 hours of climb though wild berries and bonsais to reach the three peaks and summit of Mount Apo at 10,311 feet.

Tamayong Wild Berries


  1. Kudos to the blog owner! I really appreciate the good content plus the PICTURES. (I love the picture) :) I have to say that these pictures are wonderful. You can rarely see wild boars and deers nowadays. Pictures are the best views going to Mount Apo. I would really love to share our photos during the reopening of Mount Apo Kidapawan Trail, sad to say there's only few pictures left. Here are some of the pictures during the reopening of Mt. Apo and the making of Koong Trail.

  2. Hi! My friend and I would like to see Mt. Apo. How do we get there from Francisco Bangoy Int'l airport? We're not gonna climb though.


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